The 2016 Finance Law, announced on Thursday by the Venstre government and its three supporting parties the Danish People’s Party, Liberal Alliance and the Conservatives, followed the expected pattern with cuts to international development aid, education and environmental levies. Meanwhile, property tax was frozen and vehicle registration tax cut from 180 to 150 percent. See here for an overview of the budget in full.
Opposition parties wasted no time in condemning the budget as a blow to society’s weaker members. The Socialist People’s Party called the budget a “party for the whisky sector”, claiming it was designed to benefit wealthy homeowners, inheritors and car owners while those on social welfare support, students and refugees were left to “foot the bill”.
The Social Liberals (Radikale) leader Morten Østergaard noted that the cuts to education and for poorer families would “create more problems than they will solve”. This sentiment was echoed by the environmentally-focused Alternative party, who stated that if they had 90 seats in parliament – the number needed for a majority – they would “invest in climate, the environment, education, foreign development aid and entrepreneurship – the future”.
The opposition was, however, not the main source of disapproval for Danish People’s Party leader Kristian Thulesen Dahl following his participation in and approval of the budget. Homing in on pre-election promises of public sector growth – Dahl’s party is the only one in the conservative bloc with such a policy – and not cutting social welfare benefits, Dahl’s Facebook page was inundated with posts from disappointed supporters.
One wrote that the party had become a “reverse Robin Hood” after a limit for social welfare support was introduced as part of the budget. Another, speaking to public broadcaster DR said that the party’s U-turn on public sector growth, now estimated at 0.3 percent for the next budget following DF’s pre-election promise of 0.8 percent, meant that “they do not stick to their promises”. Echoing the comments of opposition politicians, Thulesen Dahl and his party were also accused of not getting enough mileage out of their parliamentary influence, given that they hold more parliament seats (37) than government party Venstre (34).
Dahl praised the new finance deal, calling it “an honourable budget”, while a party spokesperson denied that promises on welfare support had been broken, citing a distinction between reducing payments and setting an upper limit to how much can be claimed. Dahl respond to social media critics by denying that the deal would prevent “real growth”, and said that supporters should avoid focusing on “the negative things”.
Liberal Alliance leader Anders Samuelsen, whose party was successful in implementing its proposal for reducing vehicle tax and was hailed by most political watchers as the budget’s biggest winner, called the budget “beautiful”.
Initial reaction from the opposition and Danish People’s Party supporters, however, suggests that the government is going to have its work cut out convincing a significant section of its voters.